Curriculum Innovations

September 7, 2020

Analytics for Accounting Decision Making

The accounting profession is continuously changing, and the School of Accountancy is working closely with professionals in practice to ensure we deliver relevant curriculum to the next generation of accountants.  We added a new required class, “Analytics for Accounting Decision Making” in Fall 2019.  Faculty members involved in developing and teaching the course, Dr. Babak Mammadov and Dr. Phebian Davis-Culler, consulted with several employers, including the Big 4, regional audit firms and private companies to understand specific data analytics skills that are required in today’s job market. Although firms do not expect students to be experts in this area, employers want their new hires to have exposure to data analytics before starting their careers.  Our undergraduate course teaches students how to use data to make business decisions with multiple software programs that are widely used in practice, such as Tableau and Microsoft SQL.

Analytics in Action: Professionals in the Classroom

We added a new class (“Analytics in Accounting Practice”) to the Master of Professional Accountancy (“MPAcc”) program which provides a link between academic learning and data analytics in accounting practice.  Under the guidance of Senior Lecturer Jimmy Barnes, professionals from Deloitte, Dixon Hughes Goodman (DHG), Elliott Davis, EY, and PwC delivered hands-on content on a variety of topics, such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, data mining, cybersecurity, and advanced analytical procedures.

Zoom screenshot of students in virtual class

Analytics in Accounting Practice – Virtual Class

“This course offered the students a real world introduction into the analytic environment they be a part of when they begin their full-time employment.  I am very proud of the effort that the student put in to each class session.  I want to thank all of the professionals that gave of their time and talents to invest in our students.” ~ Senior Lecturer Barnes

This course will continue to evolve in the future, with practicing accountants taking the lead to share emerging trends and technologies with our MPAcc students.  Thank you to Senior Lecturer Barnes for coordinating, administering, and overseeing this novel course and especially to all the professionals who generously donated their time and skills to teaching this unique course!

Advanced Accounting Analytics

Our Master of Professional Accountancy program is also adding a new Advanced Accounting Analytics course for Fall 2020.  Dr. Marc Cussatt is developing and teaching this graduate course and notes that “this class is designed to give students the opportunity to develop a strong foundation for the beginning of their career as well as develop the skills and mindset needed to adapt to new and emerging concepts and technologies throughout their careers.”  This case-based course will provide in-depth knowledge of two tools commonly employed by accounting firms, Alteryx and Microsoft Power BI.  Students will also be exposed to many other tools such as Tableau, UiPath, XBRL/iXBRL, and SQL and R coding languages. Upon completion of the course, students will have: a) an understanding of data analytic thinking and terminology, b) an understanding of current and emerging data analytics issues in accounting, c) hands-on experience with data analytics tools and techniques, and d) the ability to interpret and share results with a diverse set of stakeholders (both orally and in writing).

Focus on Soft Skills

four students sitting at table building spaghetti and marshmallow structure

Students work together on the “marshmallow challenge”

While the demand for technical skills continues to increase, there is also an increasing demand for students to enter the accounting profession with stronger “soft skills.”  Recognizing this need, the School of Accountancy offers a highly interactive class that focuses on improving important soft skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, networking, and adaptability.

blindfolded students follow rope in the woods

Students complete the rope course at Clemson’s Outdoor Lab

Delivered as a hybrid course, the course includes online, one-on-one, and group activities, such as a rope course at Clemson’s Outdoor Lab and the “marshmallow challenge”, where students build vertical structures using only marshmallows and spaghetti. As part of the course, students are also required to write impactful resumes and attend campus professional networking events.


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